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kaangkok sawan (คางคกสวรรค์)

Thai. ‘Heavenly toad’. Name of an auspicious animal from Chinese mythology. Also called kop sahm kha which means ‘three-legged frog’. It is often portrayed with red eyes and flared nostrils, sitting on a pile of traditional Chinese money, often with a string of ancient Chinese coins on each side of its body. It has the power to attract fortune and richness as well as to protect property, but needs to be activated by placing a coin in its mouth. It is said that the heavenly toad lives on the moon and its powers increase visibly during a lunar eclipse. According to a Chinese legend there once was a lady who was the wife of one of the Eight Immortals, who heaven had bestowed with the amrita, the elixir of immortality. This lady loved gold and money but was still a mortal. Thus, she stole the amrita but got caught and punished for it by heaven. She was cursed and changed into a toad with only three legs, and banished to, or vanished into, the moon (leaped into it, and escaped). It is believed that whoever finds the three-legged frog will also find a pile of silver and gold, as it still is its nature to treasure these things. Hence the three-legged frog became the auspicious animal from heaven that drives away evil and assists in bringing great wealth to peoples homes. It needs to be placed facing the entrance of a home or shop to invite money in, but at night it should be turned backwards to prevent the daytime earnings from disappearing again. It is the traditional pet of the immortal Liu Hai (fig.), an informal Taoist god of wealth, whose toad would convey him to any place he wishes to go, but occasionally it would escape down a well, and he would then lure it out with a line baited with gold coins. Occasionally, it is portrayed with Nakula, one of the 18 arahats. In Chinese it is called chanchu, with chan also meaning ‘moon’ in both Chinese and Thai. In English it is also referred to as Lucky Money Toad, Moon Frog and Three-legged Money Frog. See also kaangkok and the story of Montho.